River Kelvin wildlife corridor under threat

Posted on November 14, 2012

In a serious threat to the environment of Glasgow’s west end, a proposal has been lodged which would effectively abolish the River Kelvin wildlife corridor. This area has been, at least in theory, protected under the city’s development plan, but a housing developer has proposed that the new City Plan do away with the designation.

The company in question is the one behind the Otago Lane development, which will be familiar to many in the local area.

Here’s the objection letter I sent to the City Council about this proposal. Please consider doing the same in your own name – you have until the 7th of December to do so, and you can find help in writing your objection here.

REF: PROP0049

Dear Colleague,

I am writing concerning proposals to re-zone the area around Otago Street and at the end of Otago Lane from Residential and Greenspace to Residential only. In effect this will mean the end of the important River Kelvin wildlife corridor. The applicant, Highlander House Ltd, is clearly concerned that the existence of the corridor, a riparian route that importantly links Kelvingrove Park with the Botanic Gardens, will impede plans to build in the area.

A decision to re-zone the area would be against the public interest and that of the environment, and would also be against the spirit of the city plan. All the conservation area appraisals, including City Council’s West End conservation appraisal, MAST architects’ and the developer’s, acknowledges the green corridor as important as a visual amenity.

The protection of green and wildlife corridors such as this is enshrined in the City Council’s own city plan:

ENV 1 Open Space Protection, requires that the council ensures “…that areas of formal and informal open space are protected from inappropriate development”.

Dev 11 Greenspace “There is a strong presumption in favour of the retention of all public and private green/open space”

ENV 8, Trees Woodlands and Hedgerows requires that the council protects trees, woodlands and hedgerows from inappropriate development.

ENV 17, Protecting the Water Environment, requires that the council only allows development that “does not have an adverse impact on the water environment by preventing the deterioration of aquatic ecosystems and enhancing their quality, including groundwater, promoting sustainable water use, reducing pollution, and mitigating against the impact of extreme weather events.”

By annulling the wildlife / green corridor status, not only will the door be opened to damaging development, but the council will be responsible for reducing the water quality of the Kelvin with the run-off into the river, which risks contravening the binding international EU Water Framework Directive (2000).

On a national level, any decision to remove the wildlife corridor status at this point in the river will contravene Scottish Planning Policy, specifically the sections on open spaces. What is being proposed here is an attempt to degenerate and destroy an area accepted by all parties as incredibly valuable in terms of nature conservation, visual amenity and quality of life.

I strongly urge the council to deny the application proposed by Highlander House and retain the official the status of this lovely area. Please put the interests of the community you are representing and the environment you are meant to be protecting first.

Yours with concern,

Patrick Harvie MSP